Here Comes Fritz

A year later, fans flocked from all over the continent to see the historic staging of Pink Floyd's "The Wall" at the Dortmunder Westfalenhalle. By that time, it was very clear that MAMA Concerts was providing services that went well beyond the scope of conventional concert promotion. The organization of press conferences, album presentations, television and radio appearances, and even career advice were all on the agenda. Eventually, in 1985, this ever-expanding workload necessitated another move to larger premises. With this came the establishment of the company's present headquarters on the Promenadeplatz in the center of Munich.

In 1986, after 18 highly successful years together, Avram and Lieberberg decided to call it a day and go their separate ways. Avram took a 100% share in MAMA Concerts and operated out of Munich, while Lieberberg decided to go independent in Frankfurt.

Yet, within just over a couple of years, Avram had gravitated back toward a partnership. He took the entire concert industry by surprise when he merged his own company with the prestigious Lippmann + Rau to form MAMA Concerts & Lippmann + Rau, Germany's largest concert promotion agency.

In May 1980, MAMA promoted the first edition of the annual Munich Reitstadion open-air festival. The inaugural concert was headed by Fleetwood Mac and Bob Marley.

"For years, Fritz Rau and Horst Lippmann had been my idols within the business," says Avram. "But I was somewhat in awe, and I couldn't ever quite summon up the courage to talk to them—not, that is, until October 1988, when I spent some time with Fritz."

"For my part, just prior to my 60th birthday I was thinking seriously about my future as a promoter," adds Rau. "You see, Lippmann + Rau had become a one-man show because Horst had not been active for many years. Then a promotion colleague of mine suggested that I talk to Marcel. We met, we talked and we became partners."

Simple as that. Says Avram, "The only mistake we made—and we both agree on this—was that we left it until January 11, 1989, to merge our companies. We both would have profited by doing it 14 years earlier. Fritz is a fantastic guy—an extremely calm and clever man, with a very lucid mind."

The merger was labeled "a marriage of elephants." The fusion of MAMA Concerts, with an annual gross revenue of 52 million marks (approximately $33 million), and Lippmann + Rau, with its annual gross of 35 million marks ($24 million), was considered by many to be a virtual monopoly, constituting a major threat to competitors, some of whom sought intervention by the antitrust commission. 

Called "a marriage of elephants," the merger of MAMA Concerts, with an annual gross revenue of approximately $33 million, and Lippmann + Rau, with its annual gross of $24 million, was considered by many to be a virtual monopoly.

Such pleas, however, apparently fell on deaf ears. During the ensuing years, the annual gross of MAMA Concerts & Rau has increased to a massive 120 million marks ($80 million), representing a rise of approximately 38%. The company currently presents an average of 800-plus events a year, with 65% of its income generated by Anglo-American artists, 25% by German acts and 10% by Italian performers.

In terms of audience figures, however, Germany still stands as MAMA Concerts & Rau's major market, and the 1990 reunification of the country offers even greater potential. At the same time, the company is also extremely active in numerous other territories: Austria and Switzerland have traditionally been involved in the MAMA scheme of things, and since 1979 the field of operations has been extended to include Scandinavia, Benelux, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

"To me, expanding on an international level involves chemistry," explains Avram. "What with my father being Greek, my mother being Romanian, and all of us living in Israel, it is hardly surprising that I am used to foreign countries and the different mentalities of their people."

Today, Avram looks after the interests of artists such as Simple Minds, Chris de Burgh and Rod Stewart throughout Europe. There is undoubtedly a wide range of new possibilities on the horizon, with the advent of the single market providing for the free flow of people, goods, services and capital among the 12 member states of the European Economic Community—which boasts a combined population of around 340 million people.

One enterprise from which Marcel feels that the European territories could vastly benefit would be the construction of amphitheaters, similar to those in the United States. "The 20,000-capacity Waldbühne in Berlin is a good example of one that already exists over here," he says. "Having a venue that can accommodate between 10,000 and 12,000 fans under cover and a similar number out on the grass is perfectly geared for events taking place between April and October. Germany, France, Italy, Spain, even Britain—all needs this type of facility. This could be the future for Europe. I think it would be very successful, and I for one would like to be involved in such a venture."

home biography story gallery concerts friends

Copyright © Marcel Avram • All rights reserved